Russian Presidential Academy Department Chair of Global Leadership Studies and Georgetown University and New York University visiting professor Sam Potolicchio shared his tips on leadership Tuesday at an event entitled “How to Become President or CEO: Executive Leadership in the 21st Century.”
The event, hosted by the International Relations Club, GU Women In Leadership, the College Democrats, the College Republicans and the Brilliantly British Club, took place in the Intercultural Center.
Potolicchio drew on his background as the president of the Preparing Global Leaders Foundation, an international leadership training program with campuses in Russia, Macedonia, Jordan and the United States.
Potolicchio first introduced his ideas about what it takes to become a leader in today’s world.
“Leadership is about juxtaposition, it is about contrast,” Potolicchio said. “What is charisma? Charisma is being graced by God in some respects; it is being special; it is being unique; it is standing out.”
Potolicchio said that a successful leader can multitask, but also remain focused on what is important.
“It is very difficult to be able to attend to things simultaneously,” Potolicchio said. “We like to have leaders who are able to have a panoramic vision but also focus on the details at the same time. If you have that vision, you are able to make better decisions. If you want to be an effective leader, you need to be a first-class noticer. You need to be able to see things.”
Potolicchio emphasized that constant access to information can be very prejudicial to the young generation.
“In the age of distraction, you are not very good noticers,” Potolicchio said. “You’ve been raised with these evil things [cellphones] in front of you. If I compare your reactions to those of people who are a generation older, they do much better than you do, because you are not looking; you are not seeing. … It is very important to be able to attend to people and to be present. It will really make you stand out, particularly in your generation, when you are starting to lose some of these skills” Potolicchio said.
Potolicchio said that being humble is a crucial part of any leader as well as being surrounded by talented people.
“One of the missions of my leadership foundation is to try to get some of the most talented working on some of these problems that we have,” Potolicchio said. “So we are over-represented by women and by introverts, because both of these groups are very under-represented when it comes to prime leadership positions. That is a problem. If you really want to have the most talented people working on these issues, you can’t have these under-representations.”
The differences between introverts and extroverts are also key factors which needs to be analyzed in the study of leadership, according to Potolicchio.
“Let me give you some baseline definitions of introverts and extroverts,” Potolicchio said. “If you are an introvert and you go to a party, you might lose energy while you are this party, it tires you out. An extrovert feeds off the energy of the party. So it is very difficult for introverts to become president or CEO, because an event like this would very tiring for an introvert.”
Potolicchio then discussed the importance of always surrounding oneself with the best people.
“How do you make other people better?” Potolicchio asked. “This is a fear that many people have. If you are a leader, many times you don’t want to pick someone who is going to outshine you, who might get the award, who might take your job. So we try to isolate those who insulate us. But being a leader is how you make other people better, not just for the short term but also for the long term. This is something that many people aren’t doing. They don’t focus on actually including those around them.”
Tami Lacasse (SFS ’18) said she felt extremely captivated by Potolicchio’s speech.
“He managed to convey his points in such a memorable way,” Lacasse said. “He made it personal to us students. He framed what he said in a way that was relatable to his audience. I particularly appreciated his point on being present and attending to people. It is true that our generation is very caught upon on being connected all the time, missing out on actual personal connections.”
Marcela Gelhoren (MSB ’18) said she also enjoyed the content of Potolicchio’s lecture.
“Being a business student, I was very interested on hearing what he had to say,” Gelhoren. “I was very impressed with the way that he delivered his speech and the points that he made. I appreciated when he touched on the question of humility, as I think that it is something that is very lacking in the leadership of today. I will definitely keep in mind all of the information that he shared with us and I am sure that it will make me a better student and future professional.”